You’ve been in a car accident. It sucks, but it happens more than you might think. In 2016, more than 7 million automobile accidents occurred in the U.S. alone. When the cars roll to a stop, and the scary part is over, what should you do?
1. Call Emergency Services
Step one for any accident is to call emergency services. Dial 911 or whatever the equivalent is in your country and let the dispatcher know there’s been an accident. They’ll ask you for details, including how many cars are involved, if there are any injuries and where the accident took place. Give them as much information as possible. If you’re injured, stay put. If not, get out of your car — if it’s safe — and check on the other parties.
2. Check On Your Passengers
If you weren’t the only person in the car, make it a point to check on your passengers and ensure everyone is okay. If there are any injuries, don’t stress — in most states, passenger injuries fall under the driver’s insurance. Don’t admit fault, though. If you or your passengers were injured, and it’s the other driver’s error, your medical expenses will be taken care of by their insurance.
3. Collect Vital Information
You’ll want to collect as much information as possible about the accident and from other drivers involved, including car makes and models, license plate numbers, insurance information and photos of the accident and scene. Emergency services will take their own pictures, but this step could be valuable if you plan to make an insurance claim.
4. Don’t Leave the Scene
No matter what you do, don’t leave the scene of the accident until emergency services clear you. If you’re in an accident and you leave the area, you could be charged with a hit and run, even if you weren’t originally at fault. Always pull over to a safe location, call emergency services and wait for the first responders.
5. Get Medical Attention
Once cleared to leave the scene of the accident, contact your doctor, even if you don’t feel like you’re injured. Some soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, can take days or weeks to manifest symptoms. Plus, the longer you wait to head to the doctor’s office, the harder it is to tie the injuries to the accident, meaning insurance may not pay for your medical bills.
6. File an Insurance Claim
Once you’ve jumped through all the hoops, make sure you file a claim with your insurance company. Depending on the severity of the accident, they may wish to send an adjuster to assess the damage in-person. Either way, this process can take a while, so make sure you get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
In a Car Accident? Stay Calm and Follow These Tips
After an accident, the most important thing you can do is stay calm. Panic doesn’t help anyone. Instead, it will make things more complicated than they need to be. If you follow the tips above, from calling 911 to visiting your doctor, you can get through it.